Museum reaps benefits of celluloid success
Thousands of movie goers who saw the film Night at the Museum are spending the day there, too.
The American Museum of Natural History has experienced a 20% boost in attendance during the holiday season this year, and museum officials attribute some of the increase to the family film that stars Ben Stiller as a museum night watchman who must deal with exhibits that come to life.
Parts of the movie were shot at the venerable building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
“The movie has generated a lot of interest,” said museum president Ellen Futter. “But there’s also just terrific excitement about the museum right now—especially with some of our exhibits, like the live butterflies and the gorgeous gold exhibit.”
Futter also attributed the jump to an overall increase in New York City tourism. She said there is usually a spike in attendance during the holidays, but not like this. About 250Â 000 people visited the museum between December 22 and January 7, which is nearly 50Â 000 more than the same time last year.
The movie is not doing so badly either. It was the number one film at the box office in the United States and Canada for the third straight weekend, pulling in $23,7-million in ticket sales.
Stiller’s character battles Attila the Hun, a mischievous monkey, tiny cowboys, Roman soldiers and other figures from museum exhibits. The comedy from director Shawn Levy also stars Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney. Robin Williams makes a cameo as a wax figure of former President Teddy Roosevelt that is among the exhibits that come alive.
The gold exhibit, which features pre-Columbian jewellery and an Academy Award statuette, is on display until August 19. The butterfly conservatory, where butterflies fly around in an enclosed habitat, runs through to May 28.
The museum also recently started a sleep-over programme, focusing on children between the ages of 8 and 12, along with their parents or other accompanying adults. Participants, paying $79 each, are asked to bring a sleeping bag and are given cots and light snacks. Futter said the programme has been hugely popular and is sold out until June.—Sapa-AP